Located in northern France between the cities of Lens and Arras, Vimy Ridge is 8 km in length and rises 61 m above the Douai Plain. The German Army occupied the strategically important ridge in September 1914 and fortified it with barbed wire, concrete bunkers, artillery, trenches, underground medical facilities, and living quarters. French and British forces tried to gain control of Vimy Ridge throughout 1915 and 1916 but were unsuccessful.
Commanded by British Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng, Canadian troops took over the front line at Vimy Ridge during the winter of 1916. After careful training and rehearsal, the Canadians began to heavily bombard the ridge on March 20, 1917. The artillery fire continued for days before the four Canadian infantry divisions attacked the ridge at dawn on Easter Monday, April 9. This marked the first time that Canadians fought together and they gained control of Vimy Ridge three days later. Of the forty-nine battalions engaged at Vimy, four were recruited in Saskatchewan: the 5th, the 28th, the 46th, and the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles.